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Graduate Field of Global Development

Effectively assess & address global development challenges

The Master of Professional Studies (MPS) in Global Development is a one-year, interdisciplinary graduate-level degree program combining a flexible course-based curriculum with a capstone or problem-solving project. The program is designed to enhance practical and technical skills and to prepare students for careers in field-based development and development policy roles serving low-income and rural communities globally. Featuring senior faculty advisors with strong global experience and international reputations, Cornell’s Global Development MPS program provides opportunities for critically analyzing development strategies and learning about practices, technologies, approaches and trends in development worldwide.

Communities around the world are faced with rapid change and complex and unprecedented challenges that require creative solutions and urgent attention. However, government agencies and private sector enterprise often lack personnel trained to deal with these emerging challenges. Similarly, professionals with disciplinary training often find themselves working on development issues for which they have limited preparation or technical knowledge.

The goal of the MPS program is to provide graduates with the ability to effectively assess development challenges and address them by applying up to date technical skills and working as part of transdisciplinary teams.

Master of Professional Studies (MPS)

Most applicants accepted into the Global Development MPS program have at least two years of relevant field or administrative experience. Many are returning Peace Corps volunteers (RPCVs) or experienced international professionals seeking to expand their knowledge and graduate credentials. Applicants with limited professional experience are also considered for admission, but must have fieldwork or other proficiencies aligned with the mission of the program.

Applicants need to obtain their own funding for the program, though we do offer a limited number of competitive fellowships, including one teaching assistantship and one full-tuition Coverdell Fellowship. The Coverdell Fellowship is awarded to an RPCV and may be granted to a single individual or shared among up to four fellows. All students enrolled in the program have the opportunity to apply for travel grants to support capstone project research and professional development workshops.

MPS students in the program have access to dedicated career services support in the CALS Office of Professional Programs and Extended Learning and through the vast network of Cornell alumni worldwide.

Program structure


Students work with a faculty advisor to customize their course of study based on their area(s) of interest.  While the majority of the courses (20 of the required 30 credits) will be in CALS, students have the flexibility to take additional coursework across Cornell. Students gain knowledge of development theory and practice combined with technical core competency in subject areas such as: production agriculture; soil, water and land management; agricultural, food systems and development economics; policy and trade; policy analysis; rural development; and participatory extension.

Capstone project

With the guidance of a faculty advisor, MPS candidates undertake an applied capstone project to fulfill the MPS degree requirements. The MPS project offers the opportunity to apply newly-acquired problem solving tools to real world issues, providing valuable insights as students embark on their post-graduation careers.


MPS students are part of a cohort of CALS professional master’s students specializing in diverse fields of study and have a dedicated support organization, offering career guidance, professional skill development and a network of supportive Cornell alumni.


How to apply

Application Requirements

Learn more about the admission and application and admission requirements for the Master of Professional Studies program in the field of Global Development.


Detail regarding, the cost of the program and Cornell-based and external funding sources.

Frequently Asked Questions

Find answers to our most commonly asked questions.

Areas of Specialization

MPS student Michal Matejczuk in the MPS-IARD program

International Agriculture & Rural Development

One of the grand challenges of the 21st century is how to secure enough food to feed growing world populations in ways that ensure access for all and are environmentally sustainable. Students interested in gaining practical knowledge and skills related to agriculture and food production systems, including agro-ecology, regenerative agriculture, and agro-forestry, will find a rich array of relevant courses and opportunities for field-based learning. We have a long history of training students in IARD and a vast alumni network. 


International Environmental Management

Global climate change has focused attention like never before on the need for careful stewardship of the world’s natural resources. Students interested in ecology, environmental sciences, and sustainability studies and in careers in international environmental management have access to a wide array of relevant courses at Cornell – the top-ranking Ivy League institution in national sustainability rankings. The Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability is an important extra-curricular resource for students; the Center hosts prominent speakers and offers additional opportunities for students to be involved in sustainability work.

Social Enterprise

As aid budgets have shrunk, the development sector has increasingly promoted social enterprise as a way for the world’s poor and middle classes to make a living, gain skills, create jobs, and substitute local products for imported goods and services. Our students, some of them entrepreneurs themselves, can learn practical skills related to starting and running social enterprises or measuring the impacts of these enterprises on families and communities. Students can also apply to participate in hands-on, field-based, student-led projects that contribute to small business development in emerging markets through the SMART Program.

Migration & Mobility

We live, more than ever before, in a world on the move. As people are forced from their homes due to climate change, conflict, and lack of economic opportunities, migrants, refugees, and diasporic populations have emerged as groups with specific and urgent needs. Students interested in preparing for careers in the humanitarian sector or in crafting policy or implementing programs to deal with the needs of migrants, refugees, diasporic populations, and host communities may focus their coursework in this area. Outside formal coursework, The Cornell Farmworker Program provides volunteer and other opportunities for students to be engaged in related issues in upstate New York.

Non-Profit & NGO Management

Non-profit and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are key actors in global development and poverty reduction projects. Students interested in gaining practical skills in leading these organizations may take courses to acquire the knowledge, skills, and strategic sensibilities needed to become effective leaders in the non-profit and NGO sectors.

Gender & Development

The impacts of development programs and policies have differed based on gender as well as other identities. Development projects carry with them understandings of gender and shape gender relations in ways that need to be critically evaluated and addressed. Students interested in working across sectors to make development projects more inclusive and egalitarian can learn about the history of such efforts, as well as current frameworks for gender analysis. Additional opportunities for student engagement – in the form of seminars, travel grants, and resource databases – are available to students through the Advancing Women in Agriculture through Research and Education (AWARE) program.

Education & Development

Education, in its many forms, is a key component of development projects. Students interested in gaining expertise in agricultural, extension, or youth or adult education will find a robust set of course offerings from which to choose.  Outside the classroom, students have opportunities to learn from Cornell Cooperative Extension, a world-class extension service covering the state, and extension and outreach institutes in the Department of Global Development.

Demographic Change & Global Development

Demographic changes – from aging populations to youth bulges – provide opportunities as well as constraints on economic development. Students interested in understanding population-level influences on development and working to shape or analyze population policies and social or economic programs to respond to these changes will find a robust selection of relevant courses and deep faculty expertise at Cornell. Outside formal coursework, students may take advantage of the extensive programming of the Cornell Population Center.

International Development Economics & Policy

Cornell faculty and students have a long history studying the economics of development in low-income countries and advising governments in the area of economic policy. The university-wide community of those interested in economic issues surrounding development is vast, providing students unparalleled opportunities for studying these issues.

Our Experts

Terry Tucker headshot
Terry Tucker

Professor of the Practice

Department of Global Development

Co-Director, Graduate Field of Global Development

Department of Global Development

Terry Tucker
International agriculture & rural development
Participatory research & extension
Higher education & development
Ed Mabaya headshot
Ed Mabaya

Research Professor

Department of Global Development

Director, Humphrey Fellowship Program

Department of Global Development

Co-Director, Graduate Field of Global Development

Department of Global Development

Ed Mabaya
Applied Economics and Policy
Food and Agricultural Economics
International and Development Economics and Policy
Headshot of Derar Lulu
Derar Lulu

Graduate Field Coordinator

Department of Global Development

Derar Lulu
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